An agreement signed Sept. 7 by representatives of California farmers and farm-equipment dealers will make it easier for farmers to diagnose and repair equipment without accessing or downloading proprietary software or code. Leaders of the California Farm Bureau Federation and Far West Equipment Dealers Association (FWEDA) signed the memorandum of understanding at an equipment dealership in Stockton.
Under the “right to repair” agreement, equipment dealers commit to providing access to service manuals, product guides, on-board diagnostics and other information that would help a farmer or rancher to identify or repair problems with the machinery. The agreement includes restrictions. Among them: Source code for proprietary software would not be accessible, and owners would not be able to change equipment in ways that would affect compliance with safety or emissions regulations.
“Reliable farm equipment is crucial to the success of any farming operation, and farmers have long depended on their ability to make repairs quickly in order to keep their equipment running during harvest and other key times,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “This agreement gives farmers the information they need to do just that, even as equipment has become increasingly complex.”
FWEDA President and CEO Joani Woelfel said the agreement “says a lot about the relationship between dealers and their customers.”
“This agreement is especially important because whenever we can resolve issues that concern us without passing laws, everybody wins,” Woelfel said. “We appreciate Assembly Member Eggman for encouraging the resolution this agreement represents.”
Earlier this year, Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, introduced legislation known as the Right to Repair Act that would have ensured consumers of a wide array of electronic products would receive access to manufacturers’ diagnostic and repair information.
“Although the bill didn’t advance in the Legislature, I am very pleased that it produced some encouragement for the agreement between the California Farm Bureau and the Far West Equipment Dealers,” Eggman said. “Access to diagnostic and repair information will help farmers get their equipment back into service more quickly, saving them valuable time and money.”
Under the agreement, maintenance, diagnostic and repair information not already available will be made available for tractors and combines put into service beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 40,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.